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Yes! You Can Have Grilled Cheese for Dinner

New combinations to try for a quick, comforting, flavorful meal

Grilled cheese sandwich
Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Oh, the beauty of a grilled cheese sandwich—the kind that leaves your fingers slightly shiny and makes your eyes go wide with joy. It’s the sight of all that cheese stretching invitingly as you pull apart the halves of the sandwich.

This diner classic is really appropriate for any meal, but in these days when cold temperatures and life stresses can strain our flavorful, comforting dinner imaginations, why not try grilled cheese for supper?

First, a quick review of grilled cheese 101:

Buy bread—anything will do, but this is a great opportunity to showcase your pandemic sourdough baking skills…or to grab a special loaf from your local bakery. 

Spread softened butter, margarine or mayonnaise on one side of each slice of bread. Mayonnaise has a higher smoke point than butter, so some prefer it to keep bread brown but not charred.

Heat a skillet or griddle pan on medium-low heat. The goal is to melt the cheese and toast the bread, not “cook” the ingredients inside the sandwich.

Fill your sandwich with deliciousness and assemble.

Grill your sandwich for two-three minutes on one side, then flip for two minutes on the other—or however long it takes for your bread to be beautifully brown and crisp. 

Now, onto some sandwich-filling ideas that can elevate your grilled cheese into a delectable dinner. 

Quick Pickles
Pickles give a tasty tang to a grilled cheese sandwich, cutting through the creamy richness and bringing everything about the sandwich to life. A classic Cuban sandwich contains thinly sliced dill pickle, ham, cheese and mustard. 

But you can make quick pickles yourself to bring some zing to your sandwich. My favorite is pickled red onion—thinly slice the onion and submerge into a mixture of ½ cup apple cider vinegar, one tablespoon of sugar, and a healthy pinch of kosher salt. Let it stand for an hour before spreading a thin layer onto your sandwich. 

Add a Touch of Sweetness
At holidays, my mom always served warm brie and jam with crackers. I like to bring that sweet-savory combo to my grilled cheese sandwiches as well. Stirring together some honey and mustard is a place to start. Or, add thinly sliced apples or pears to your sandwich to bring in some real fruit. Red berry jams like raspberry or strawberry are also beautiful complements to savory cheeses and meats like turkey.

Make it Meaty
Cheese is packed with protein, but sometimes you really want to lean into the meatiness of a dinnertime meal. Grilled cheese sandwiches are highly welcoming to any deli meats, especially turkey and ham, as well as cured meats like prosciutto or the flavor bomb known as crumbled bacon

Bring In Favorite Flavors
What are your favorite dinnertime flavor profiles? If you love Italian flavors, turn to a layer of arugula or fresh basil, a slice of tomato and mozzarella cheese. If you enjoy Tex-Mex, add guacamole and a thin layer of spicy salsa to Monterey Jack cheese. Asian influences could include a fermented food like kimchi, thinly sliced grilled steak flavored with soy sauce and sesame oil, paired with cheddar.

What is your favorite grilled cheese sandwich?

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